Israel entered this 2011 family drama in the Academy Awards, and one might twit the movie's safe, middlebrow, apolitical story if the domestic nominees weren't also generally safe, middlebrow, and apolitical. A glowering Talmudic professor at Hebrew University (Shlomo Bar-Aba), whose scholarship dead-ended years earlier, bristles at the brilliant success of his son (Lior Ashkenazi of Late Marriage), also on the faculty; their long-simmering professional tension reaches a boil after the father is notified by mail that he's won the prestigious Israel Prize and the son learns that the letter was intended for himself. Writer-director Joseph Cedar understands the many levers of academic politics—there's an extraordinary scene in a tiny conference room where the son nearly comes to blows with his dad's professional nemesis—and this helps him to inject a little steel into the movie. But it's eventually overcome by the mushy father-son drama. In Hebrew with subtitles.
By J.R. Jones